During Saturday night's show, guest host Barbara Simpson interviewed "historian of the future" Charles Ostman about nanotechnology, biotechnology, infotechnology, and the possibilities associated with breakthroughs in each of these areas. Nanotechnology involves manufacturing at a molecular level. According to Ostman, this technology could be used to produce carbon nanofibers suitable to make hydrogen fuel a reality, possibly solving what many see as a coming energy crisis.
Biotechnology is the enterprise of manipulating biology. Ostman believes we should be very cautious as we learn to harvest the processes of nature to create new organisms. He went on to say that stem cell research should be allowed, as it could potentially cure many diseases. Infotechnology has to do with knowledge management. Ostman asserts the complexity of knowledge management has surpassed human capacity, making us dependent on machines. About this he says, "We've become symbiotically connected to a very complex infrastructure consisting of networks and computers..."
These and other disciplines are coming together to form what Ostman calls a "convergence threshold," which is placing tremendous pressure on humanity to change its view of technology. We must adapt a "systems approach to how we evaluate these new technologies and how they can be applied to our future," Ostman declares. This will require a new type of cognitive process involving machines that behave biologically, he concludes.
Bumper music from Saturday May 22, 2004